Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2021

Honors Major Advisor

Michaela Honeicke-Moore

Thesis Mentor

Michaela Hoenicke-Moore


In the last six months of WWII, the United States conducted a bombing campaign in Japan that would mark the world forever. Though a combination of engineering ingenuity, chemical creations, mass production, and racial profiling, the course of the war in the Pacific was fundamentally changed. Strategic bombing was a relatively new concept which only a handful of crucial figures were investigating into. In the pursuit of creating a fleet which would dominate the skies, it was the American government's intention to brutalize the Japanese until they gave into an unconditional surrender. While the usage of atomic bombs has been widely analyzed and criticized, few have looked into the usage of firebombs which wreaked havoc in Japan. The combination of dehumanization of the Japanese and a full mobilization of industry into achieving their goals, it is without any doubt, there were major ethical implications. In my thesis, it is my hope that through peering into the many factors that went into total destruction, that concepts like right and wrong, good and bad, are merely relative. Through the usage of primary and secondary sources, I sought out the forces which went into why decisions were made. The theory that was used at the time was that through swift actions to create a swift victory, it would ultimately lessen the suffering of violent conflict. Through acute research, this is not the case. It was the mentality that allowed people in culpable positions in the U.S. government that allowed justification for it, but this does not take away the horrendous nature of such actions. The crux of this campaign was on the night March 9, 1945 where the U.S. bombed Tokyo. It is clear that this was not only an effort to cripple the capital of Japan, but to make a statement to the rest of the world not to mess with them. It is my most humble opinion that the research which has been conducted will prove such theories in a manner which is academically respectable.


Strategic bombing, firebombing, Curtis LeMay, Military Industry, B-29 bomber, WWII in the Pacific

Total Pages

31 pages